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Google embraces big data for fight against human trafficking

11 Apr 2013
Big data

Google has donated $3m to three firms that are using big data to aide in the fight against human trafficking.

The search giant announced the launch of the Google Global Human Trafficking Hotline Network at event in Washington DC. Google's project will bring together a variety of human trafficking hotlines to create a consolidated base of data that will be able to identify trafficking hotspots around the world.

Google will fund the project with three advocacy groups, the Polaris Project, Liberty Asia, and La Strada International, who will share data from their human trafficking hotlines.

The aim is to create better prevention strategies and identify which countries are currently witnessing the largest cases of abductions.

"Together, these partners will not only be able to help more trafficking survivors, but will also move the global conversation forward by dramatically increasing the amount of useful data being shared," wrote director of Google Ideas Jared Cohen and director of Google Giving, Jacquelline Fuller in a blog post.

"Appropriate data can tell the anti-trafficking community which campaigns are most effective at reducing slavery, what sectors are undergoing global spikes in slavery, or if the reduction of slavery in one country coincides with an increase right across the border."

The Polaris Project has collected over 72,000 hotline calls in the US alone. Polaris Hotline's data has aided local and global authorities in creating better strategies to combat human trafficking.

Polaris has already begun to work with tech firms like Salesforce to expand its infrastructure. Salesforce recently helped Polaris scale its hotline operations globally.

"Hotlines are a crucial part of an effective anti-trafficking response in any country," said Polaris Project's deputy director Sarah Jakiel.

"By leveraging new technologies that enable information sharing, and by incorporating new modes of communication like text messaging, hotlines can reach more survivors, support safe migration, and offer better resources to vulnerable communities."

Google reported that human trafficking leads to over 21 million people being enslaved each year. Traffickers are reported to earn as much as $32bn a year through their barbaric trade.

The search giant has been fighting against human trafficking for the past three years. Following its $3m donation to the hotline network, Google will have invested over $14m in efforts to end the human trafficking trade.

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James Dohnert

James is a freelance writer and editor. In addition to ClickZ, his work has appeared in publications like V3, The Commonwealth Club,, and Shonen Jump magazine. He studied Journalism at Weber State University.

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